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MoviePass CEO walks back creepy location tracking comments

Published Mar 13th, 2018 7:45AM EDT
MoviePass iPhone Location Tracking
Image: Cummings/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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MoviePass, the cinema subscription service that’s cheaper than Netflix, gave itself a tiny PR scandal after CEO Mitch Lowe made a creepy remark about the app’s location tracking abilities on mobile. “We get an enormous amount of information,” he said last week. “We watch how you drive from home to the movies. We watch where you go afterwards.”

Since then, MoviePass scaled back the location tracking features of its mobile app, and Lowe just walked back his remarks, saying he was wrong about the tracking. Even so, he apparently admitted that MoviePass will sell your data to third parties.

“I said something completely inaccurate as far as what we are doing,” he told Variety in an interview. “We only locate customers when they use the app.”

“If you get in your car and drive five miles, we don’t know where you are or where you are going,” he said.

The exec also added that MoviePass never used the “always track” option inside the iOS app version. That’s the feature MoviePass removed from the app after consulting with Apple. “We never used it, and it was confusing to have it there,” Lowe said.

MoviePass still wants to offer you services based on your location, including recommendations of what to do before and after the film. But you’ll be in control. “When we do that, if we do that, we’ll send a request to each customer to let them opt in or opt out,” Lowe said, adding that only about “half a dozen” customers canceled the service over privacy concerns.

The exec did confirm that the service shares information with exhibitors and studios but said that it’s all anonymous. “There’s never any personal information” that gets shared, he said. “We never reveal any information that will let them know who bought what.”

On the other hand, MoviePass’s need to make money off your data is understandable, as it offers the cinema subscription service at cost. If you want to see as many movies in cinemas as possible each month for less than $10, then you have to agree that MoviePass needs to stay in business somehow.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.